This morning's review is possible, thanks to Teavivre for providing the sample of this old, raw pu'erh!
Contemplating the package of sheng (raw) pu'erh in my hand, it seems that this is a worthy tea for using a small yixing pot that I have dedicated to raw pu'erh. I start heating the water and open the package of tea in the meantime. The small sample package contains leaves and clumps of leaves, broken from a tuocha or a cake. And the smell of the leaves...what a raw smell it is, and I do not just say that as a pun. A raw pu'erh from 2006 has had some years of aging in which to intensify in flavor. From the aroma of the dry leaf comes a very green scent, mellow but figuratively seeming to have come straight from the tea plant. As the water finishes boiling, I put the leaves into the pot, then pour some of the freshly-boiled water over them for a quick rinse of no more than ten seconds, which is discarded. Having added a large amount of leaf to the pot, I decide to begin with twenty second infusions, rather than my normal thirty. The rinse did the leaves a lot of good - it awoke the aromas and flavors.
The smells, rising from my cup, are complex. Deep in the heart of the aroma is the raw greenness that I noticed with the dry leaf. Yet spreading outward from that is the more mellow scents of earth and floral notes. The earthiness does not begin to compare to the deep, dark earthiness of a cooked pu'erh, as I have reviewed in the past, but is lighter and less intense. The first sip of tea is strong...very strong...but it finishes quite spectacularly. Like a strong green tea, the initial taste permeates one's mouth and overwhelms all else. but in the finish of the sip come the taste manifestations of the aroma. Those floral notes, slightly reminiscent of the floral aspects of some oolongs, sit in the finish and the aftertaste, hovering on the edges and lending their complexity.
For the second cup, I steep the leaves for another twenty seconds. The leaves are fully expanded and fill the small pot in which I am brewing. The aromas have not changed much, but the taste is smoother. I would not describe the taste as more mellow, for it is still as intense as the first sip, yet it does not seem as overwhelming. The leaves last through several more infusions. The flavor is, in many ways, refreshing in its complexities. Yet, it can be consuming quickly and without much a thought to the depth, and one will still receive from it an enjoyable flavor. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate this sheng pu'erh a 90/100.
This tea is most definitely worth trying. If you have never before tried pu'erh and you are a fan of green tea, this would be a good starting place for you.
Photo credit to Teavivre.
Teavivre's 2006 Fengqing Raw Pu'erh can be purchase from their website, here.
This tea sample was provided by Teavivre for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.